A blend of white beans and fresh vegetables topped with quality olive oil makes Fasolada a hearty and satisfying Greek meal.
Sometimes referred to as the “national food of the Greeks,” the flavorful fasolada (also fasoulada, or fassolatha) is nothing more than a simple white bean soup with vegetables. It dates to ancient times, often prepared at celebrations for the god Apollo, which required it to remain meat-free. Various versions can be found in all cultures surrounding the Mediterranean.
The base of this soup is the white bean, historically unspecified but most likely originally broad beans, fava beans or cannellini beans. Any white, meaty bean will do such as great northern beans, navy beans or even lima beans. Some recipes also add heirloom grains like farro or barley, but the beans should be hearty enough to use on their own. Fresh, dried beans will always work better than canned.
To the beans are added onion, garlic, carrots, celery and tomato (a later historical addition) with a minimum of herbs (fresh parsley, bay, a touch of oregano) or other flavors. A long, slow cook time will bring out the best in the beans, allowing them to infuse with the vegetable stock and rich tomato flavor.
Also key is to use the best extra-virgin olive oil available, preferably originating from Greece or Italy. The oil—a substantial amount—is added at the end of cooking and acts as an emulsifier to thicken the soup, lending a creamy mouthfeel as well as bringing a powerful flavor component to the finish.
Serve with warm crusty bread, fresh olives, cheese and plenty of additional high-quality olive oil.
1 lb cannellini beans (dried)
15-oz can diced tomatoes
½ yellow onion
2 ribs celery
2 cloves of garlic
1 T tomato paste
1 Yukon gold potato
½ t oregano
1 T red wine vinegar
red pepper flakes
1 Chop the onion, celery and carrots, and mince the garlic. Sauté in oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 min.
2 Cube the potato and add along with tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning. Stir until uniformly combined and beginning to simmer.
3 Add dried beans and 8 c water, enough to cover. Bring to a low boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2-4 hours or until the beans are cooked through.
4 Finish with the vinegar and plenty of olive oil. Season to taste.